Cardinal Müller: Stepinac’s conscience was timeless
We are humbly grateful to God's providence which unites us today in glorious memory of the blessed Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac, said Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, while celebrating Mass in honour of blessed Alojzije Stepinac on Wednesday, 9 November 2016, in the Zagreb cathedral.
At the very beginning, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, Archbishop of Zagreb, welcomed everybody and said that we find many bonds which strengthen our communion in joy and beauty of our Catholic Church, and reminded us that the remains of Cardinal Franjo Šeper, Cardinal Müller's predecessor as the Prefect of the Congregation of Faith whose anniversary of death is commemorated this year, rest in the crypt of the presbytery of the Zagreb cathedral.
At the beginning of his homily Cardinal Müller commented on the unjust judgement of the Communist regime against Alojzije Stepinac: ‘Just like Christ who was burdened with a heavy cross in Pilate’s court, he was unfairly sentenced to sixteen years of forced labour and deprivation of his civil rights for additional five years, only to surrender his tormented soul to the Lord two years before the end of his unjust sentence and after being consistently poisoned.’
Christ is God, the very core of the Apostles’ Creed, deeply affected Archbishop Stepinac’s life, his study and service, the Cardinal pointed out and added that Stepinac chose to put it before his intellectual abilities.
Finally, the Cardinal continued, his role of a shepherd and his sacrifice as a martyr arose from this creed. In the light of this truth he sacrificed his life as a symbol of his faith, thus mirroring the Lord’s mighty words: ‘It is I: be not afraid.’ (Mark 6:50) for his flock, anxious and frightened because of unjust and violent treatment by authorities.
He said that Stepinac’s conscience was to him an unchangeable and permanent foothold throughout the four different political regimes he lived in. His conscience was a shrine where his soul met with Christ, a trustworthy God’s voice which always enabled him to distinguish the good from the bad, true from the false, beautiful from the ugly, unity from discord and peace from any kind of disorder. With such a conscience he served God, his Church and salvation of man.
And this is why, the Cardinal believes, Archbishop Stepinac was appointed Cardinal and proclaimed blessed and a martyr of the Church’s unity upon his death. His conscience was timeless, as it was rooted in the Eternal God: yesterday, today and always the same, he said.
The Cardinal said that in the time when hostility and greed had excessively grown, and when the need for the living God who loved us till death had been felt as never before, blessed Alojzije, as a good Samaritan with his immeasurable love and corporeality of his life, bowed to the martyrs, the oppressed of his time and those who needed salvation the most.
At the end of his homily, The Cardinal reminded us how Stepinac was truly devout to the Most Holy Virgin, as the Croatian people were capable to resist evil and live in the good with her help.
With the docility with which the Virgin Mary told the servants at Marriage at Cana in Galilee ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.’ (John 2:5) , you, Croatian Catholics, regardless of the difficult trials you endured over the past decades, engaged yourselves in proclamation of the gospel to the poor and the oppressed, and participated in building a peaceful, free, solidary and just society by respecting an inalienable dignity of every human being, the Cardinal told the Croatian people.
Cardinal Bozanić and Cardinal Müller visited the grave of blessed Alojzije Stepinac. Cardinal Bozanić thanked Cardinal Müller for his visit to Zagreb and said how everybody was spiritually united in a special way owing to Cardinal Müller’s thoughts and incentives. A bust of blessed Alojzije Stepinac was presented to Cardinal Müller in memory of his visit to Croatia.
Apostolic Nuncio to Croatia Msgr. Allesandro D'Errico, several bishops of the Croatia’s Bishops’ Conference, including Msgr. Ratko Perić, Bishop of Mostar-Duvno and Apostolic Administrator of Trebinje –Mrkanj and Msgr. Ilija Janjić, Bishop of Kotor, as well as priests of the Archdiocese of Zagreb, celebrated the Holy Mass.
Today, in the morning, Cardinal Müller was awarded an honorary degree of the Catholic University of Croatia, which was the reason for his visit to Zagreb.
The Press Office of the Archdiocese of Zagreb